Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist Winter 2015-16

This checklist was originally developed for blackberry growers in North Carolina. Many of the items apply to raspberry production as well. You may have to adjust your work activities either earlier or later depending on your location. For more detailed information, check the Southern Region Integrated Caneberry Management Guide and the Southeast Regional Caneberry Production Guide at:

Check the items off as they get done. This list is very general, but should help get you to think about what types of activities occur at various times of the year. If you would like other items to be added to this list, send them to me and I will add them next time.

Plant growth and development
Plant is not visibly growing during the winter months although many blackberries will retain their leaves through the winter
Some differentiation is occurring in the flower buds
Low chilling cultivars can break bud in January after adequate winter chilling. You can monitor chilling hours accumulated in eight states in the eastern US by accessing this site:
Developmental stages for IPM guide:
1. Dormant
2. Delayed dormant (swollen bud) to green tip

Pruning and trellising
Pruning should occur in late winter.  The unseasonably warm temperatures we are experiencing in mid December 2015, are not a good reason to get the pruning done early.  Pruning can stimulate growth. We have several more months to go before we want to see any type of growth!
Make trellis repairs after plants have defoliated but before pruning and training.
Erect types
Prune out the spent floricanes
Tie canes to wires in a fan shape
Cut lateral branches back to 8-12”
Thin canes to 6-8 canes/ hill (4 ft spacing)
Trailing types
Prune out spent floricanes
Tie or weave canes to wire so that they do not overlap
Prune side laterals to 12-18”
Thin canes to 6-8 hill (6-8ft spacing)
Primocane fruiting raspberries and blackberries
Prune (mow) primocane fruiting types to ground level

Weed control
Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
Many summer weed problems can be best managed in the fall and winter using preemergent herbicides. Determine what weeds have been or could be a problem in your area. Check with local extension agent for cultural or chemical means to control these weeds.

Insect and disease scouting
Check the Southern Regional Bramble integrated Management Guide for recommendations.
Scout fields for insect and disease damage and remove those canes
Remove wild blackberries and raspberries by the roots if they are within 600 ft of your planting during the winter

Take soil tests to determine fertility needs for spring plantings.
There are some new raspberry and blackberry cultivars available each year. If you have not tried them or it is not know how they will do in your region, it is best to order a small quantity to see how well they will perform in your area
For larger growers, prepare list of cultivars for 2017 plantings and order now.
A commercial small fruit nursery list at

Water management
Make repairs to irrigation system (check pumps, lines, etc)
Plants generally do not need supplemental water in winter

Marketing and miscellaneous
Order containers for next season
Make contacts for selling fruit next season
Attend grower meetings:
o The 2016 North American Raspberry & Blackberry Conference will be held in Williamsburg, VA.
o Southeast Regional Conference and Tradeshow, with sessions on blackberry
o January 7-10, 2016, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
o The 2016 NCCBRGA meeting will be Friday February 19 in Shelby. For more information contact

For more information on growing caneberries see:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Deer or other varmint damage to canes

Growers should be monitoring fields at this time for damage to the canes from animals chewing on the bark. The pictures above are most likely from deer, the grower has also had damage and seen deer in a nearby strawberry field.  Damage to canes is usually concentrated at the base of plants. This damage this early in season is not a good sign, as winter has not arrived and there is still other food out there to eat. Damage may get worse as other plants become less appetizing.  Deer and other varmints need to be controlled.

UPDATE: Grower has seen rabbits in this field chewing on the canes.